The union-affiliated corporate governance campaign group CtW Investment Group has called for James Murdoch to be removed from the boards at auctions firm Sotheby’s and pharmaceuticals giant GlaxoSmithKline.
His “service as a corporate director of any company is untenable in the wake of the phone-hacking scandal” at News Corp., CtW says – adding that UK proxy advisory firm PIRC has already called for him to step down as chairman of British Sky Broadcasting Group.
James Murdoch, the son of News Corp. founder and CEO Rupert Murdoch, has become a lightning rod for investor disapproval over the hacking scandal. Now CtW has written to the chairmen of New York-listed Sotheby’s and London-based GSK calling for his removal from their respective boards. “With serious doubts hanging over both his competency as an executive and credibility as a director, we call on the board not to nominate Mr. Murdoch for re-election,” CtW wrote to Sotheby’s Chairman Michael Sovern.
A similar letter was sent to GSK Chairman Sir Christopher Gent. CtW said it would “consider its options” if Murdoch is included on the firms’ 2012 proxy ballots.At Sotheby’s Murdoch sits on two board committees: Compensation and Corporate Governance.
At GSK, he sits on four committees: Corporate Administration & Transactions; Corporate Responsibility, Finance and Remuneration.
CtW works with pension funds sponsored by unions affiliated with Change to Win, a federation of unions representing nearly 5.5m members. It has achieved prominence with its engagement on governance issues with companies such as UK retailer Tesco, US supermarket giant Wal-Mart and transport outfit National Express.
CtW’s statement came as News Corp. faced angry shareholders at its annual shareholder meeting in Los Angeles.
The company said that all directors were elected and that a floor proposal from the Christian Brothers Investment Services calling for an independent chairman was not approved. It will provide full voting results in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission early this week. CtW announcement